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Coaches Diary: Win More Business With Strategic Alliances


In this week's casebook, Olivia Stefanino helps an ailing hairdressing business formulate strategic alliances that will grow the client base.

Samantha’s hairdressing business was doing well but she knew in her heart of hearts that it could be doing better.

While some of her clients were passing trade, most of Samantha’s regulars were with her through word of mouth. Her reputation for creativity - coupled with reasonable charges had given her business a solid foundation.

However, Samantha was keen to lease the premises next door, but she knew that if she were to afford the rent, she would need to increase her trade significantly. While her advertisements were showing a good return on investment, Samantha wanted to do something both pro-active and unusual in order to raise her profile.

I suggested that she consider setting up a series of strategic alliances with companies that were not in direct competition with her - but whose clients would benefit from her hairdressing activities.

A good starting point, we agreed, would be for Samantha to visit the local beauty clinic. Samantha would give hair appointment vouchers with a 15% discount to the beauty clinic to give to its clients. In return Samantha would offer her clients discount vouchers for the beauty clinic.

With this arrangement, both businesses would benefit from increased exposure to exactly the clientele they were targeting. Warming to the concept, Samantha then started to explore more creative possibilities.

Her local garage which offered MOT testing was situated just down the road. Samantha reckoned she could persuade the garage manager to display both a poster and vouchers in the waiting room, again offering a 15% discount.

The strategic alliance concept ensures that everyone wins, she realised. Samantha herself would gain more clients, the garage would be seen to have negotiated a special deal on behalf of its customers, and the customers themselves would be able to use the time productively while they waited for their cars to go through the MOT testing process.

Pen and notebook in hand, Samantha started to write down all the other possibilities for strategic alliances. As she was making her list – which included the local pharmacist, clothes boutique and upmarket shoe shop – Samantha recognised that she needed to choose her strategic alliance candidates carefully.

Each would need to reflect her dedication to quality and value for money and even more importantly, they would need to enjoy a good reputation and profile within the local community.

Taking her plans one step further, we discussed the possibility of Samantha creating some special vouchers aimed at companies based on the local Business Park.

As she left my office, Samantha was confident that her strategic alliances would bring in enough extra income to enable her to take on the premises next door. And with a big smile, she offered me a discounted haircut!

Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. To find out more – and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit


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